A 14-year-old girl holds her baby at her sister’s home in a village in Kanduku, in Malawi’s Mwanza district. She married in September 2013, but her husband chased her away. Her 15-year-old sister, in the background, married when she was 12. Both sisters s
© Human Rights Watch
7 March 2014

Human Rights Watch releases today a report on child marriage in Malawi, ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

The report, I’ve Never Experienced Happiness’: Child Marriage in Malawi, documents how child marriage prevents girls and women from participating in all spheres of life. It also highlights how the practice violates the right to education. Indeed, child marriage often interrupts girls’ education or denies them access altogether.

In Malawi, one out of every two girls will be married before age 18. A proposed Marriage Law would fix 18 as the clear minimum age of marriage for girls and boys, addressing a major shortfall in Malawi’s efforts to protect girls against child marriage.Human Rights Watch recomment the Malawi government to take the necessary legislative steps for the enactment of the Marriage, Divorce, and Family Relations Bill, and promptly carry out its provisions;

In addition, education is not compulsory. In October 2013, the Parliament passed an Education Bill which among others aims at reinforcing compulsory education. Human Right Watch recommends the Malawi government to pass it into law and once enacted, to develop a comprehensive plan to implement the provision on compulsory education;

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